Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1181 - October 18, 2002

Scuttlebutt is a digest of yacht racing news of major significance; commentary, opinions, features and dock talk . . . with a North American emphasis. Corrections, contributions, press releases, constructive criticism and contrasting viewpoints are always welcome, but save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.

The drama is mounting in the Around Alone race as the fleet's entire Class 2 sails for port to seek shelter from a storm. The 12 solo sailors on the second 6,880-mile leg to Cape Town have already been battered by bad weather crossing the Bay of Biscay since leaving Torbay on Monday. Now winds up to 70 knots are expected to reach more than 800 miles from the centre of the storm. The faster 60 footers in Class I might be able avoid the worst of the weather, but the smaller 50 and 40 footers in Class II would catch the full force of the storm. - / insides sailing website,

The first of the Class 2 yachts have made it to land where they will take shelter from the intense low pressure system that is fast approaching from the west. Early this morning John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia tied up in La Coruna on the north coast of Spain. It's ironic that he chose La Coruna as a destination. His boat, which used to belong to this writer, spent almost a year in La Coruna and is well known to the locals. I am sure that John will not be doing much sight-seeing, but if he finds time, he will find the people friendly and the town steeped in history and culture.

Further to the south Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America sailed into Bayonne, Portugal. He will soon be followed by Alan Paris on BTC Velocity, Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of yukoh, and later in the day Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada and Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal. That will round out Class 2.

The only Class 1 boat that has decided to stop is Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet. Bruce was late leaving Torbay after having replaced his broken boom, and because of it he has been sailing with the Class 2 boats. It's that part of the fleet that's expected to get the brunt of the storm.

Each skipper who receives outside assistance will receive a 48-hour penalty added to their elapsed time for the leg and the clock also continues to run. There is also the question of using their engine to motor into the harbor. If a skipper chooses to motor they must note on a declaration the exact location at which they turned their engines on, and if possible record the location either visually by filming a landmark, or by filming the date, time and position on their GPS. It is at this point the 48 hr time penalty is applied, but when they leave they will have to return to that exact spot where the engine seal was broken to continue racing and again record the time and place, before shutting off the engine. The final piece of the puzzle is that the skippers will have to reseal their engines and send details of how this was accomplished back to the race organizers. - Mary Ambler

Standings Fleet Positions 05:00 UTC October 18, 2002 - CLASS 1: 1. Bobst Group-Armor Lux, Bernard Stamm, 6506 miles from finish; 2. Solidaires, Thierry Dubois, 70 miles behind leader; 3. Pindar, Emma Richards, 109 mbl; 4. Hexagon, Graham Dalton, 143 mbl; 3. 4. CLASS 2: 1. Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, Brad Van View, 6720 miles from finish; 2. Everest Horizontal, Tim Kent, 8 mbl; 3.Spirit of Yukoh, Kojiro Shiraishi, 16 mbl; 4. BTC Velocity, Alan Paris, 28 mbl. -

There's little doubt this year's Louis Vuitton Cup fleet is highly competitive. Skippers and helmsmen like Russell Coutts, Peter Gilmour, Rod Davis, Peter Holmberg and James Spithill have earned aggressive reputations on the match-race circuit by using the rules to their advantage, whether faster or slower. So were these devotees to the match-racing discipline and others passive or aggressive in Round 1? The answer might be neither. You could say teams were crying wolf in Round 1.

According to International Jury statistics, 32 green flags were flown by the on-water umpires in response to requests for penalties during the 35 completed matches of Round 1. The umpires issued eight penalties, three for right-of-way infractions and five umpire-initiated. "Green flags don't mean much. Probably a lot of them are tongue in cheek," said Chief Umpire Bryan Willis.

The surprisingly high rate of green flags, 80 percent, is contrary to what is found on the match-race tour, noted umpire Luciano Giacomi, who compiled the statistics. Usually there are far more penalties than green flags. Giacomi also said that an estimated 90-percent of the calls were for proper course. He attributed it to different boat optimisation and the different angles associated with using an asymmetric spinnaker versus a symmetric spinnaker. "Usually on the tour we have one or the other, and not the option," said Giacomi.

As for the most flag-happy team, the GBR Challenge is the clear winner. Twenty "Y" flags were flown in matches involving the GBR Challenge, although not all by them. Figures released by the umpires are not attributed to individual boats, just races. By flying code flag Y, a red and yellow striped flag, competitors are requesting the umpires rule on a perceived rules infraction. The umpires either green flag it, meaning no penalty, or fly a blue or yellow flag, corresponding to the infringing yacht.

France's le Dfi Areva and Oracle BMW Racing were the next most active with 14 Y flags in their matches. Half of each team's total came in their match against GBR Challenge. The French were the most penalised team in Round 1. Two of the three penalties issued went against le Defi. One of those penalties came in desperation during the Flight 9 match against Mascalzone Latino, a match that the French lost near the finish after leading down the run. - Sean McNeill, Louis Vuitton website. There's lots more to this story:

Are your winches worn out or getting ugly? Now's your chance to re-dress your boat with some shiny new Lewmar winches. Take any old winch off your boat and Lewmar will take 10% off their reliable and easy to service winches. But wait. That's not all! Buy them from Annapolis Performance Sailing and they will increase their everyday 20% off Lewmar to 25% for this offer. That's 25% off full list price from APS plus an additional 10% from Lewmar. The best winches at the best prices. Check out the weekly updated sale rack for details.

Land Rover New Zealand have supplied transportation to the staff and crew of GBR Challenge during their stay in New Zealand, and all team vehicles carry the distinctive GBR Challenge logo. Nine vehicles have been made available, two of which are the Defender, which are ideal for ferrying sails, large amounts of gear and the crew. The other vehicles involved in transporting the GBR Challenge team are the Freelander, Discovery and Range Rover. -

(Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name and may be edited for clarity or space - 250 words max. This is not a chat room or a bulletin board - you only get one letter per subject, so give it your best shot and don't whine if others disagree.)

* From Justin Assad (edited to our 250-word limit): While windsurfing has its merits, I think some of the recent comments by adults regarding junior sailing are out of touch. Kids love optimist sailing. Though some who never sailed optimists degrade the "shoebox" boat, but it has plenty of appeal to kids. They get to control a boat by themselves, and when planing conditions exist an optimist is a blast for 10-15 year old kids! My optimist sailors stay in the optimist as long as possible because they enjoy it so much.

Maybe junior sailing should explore the prohibitively-priced 29ers and Vectors. However, most 420 teams weighing 265-295 lbs get plenty of excitement on a three-sail reach or run in waves. The trapeze is exciting for junior sailors; it is easy for those who have been racing for a long time to forget the how much fun their first few seasons in trapeze dinghies was.

High-school sailing is exploding in the U.S. among the age-bracket that allegedly finds it boring - this is not even "high-performance" sailing! The answer is not big boats or windsurfing; it is a better experience for the individual involved. Foster the competitive spirit in him (or her) and they will eat it up and that is what will get them hooked. Take your Opti/420 sailors away from your yacht club or bay on fun trips to find the best competition or just a different set of competitors, and they will love it. Find a coach that will help them set goals and achieve them.

* From Michael Grandfield President, International Tornado Association: A fair race cannot be achieved without a fair start. In the Tornados, OCS boats have a disproportionate advantage over and do disproportionate harm to boats that start fairly.

A Tornado is a very low momentum boat with high top-end (35 knots) and sustained speeds (15-18 knots upwind, 25 knots downwind). At one minute before the start, a Tornado fleet is just a couple of boat lengths behind the line, and very nearly at zero knots (maintaining only the ability to steer cleanly). At about 10 seconds before the start, the fleet sheets in and accelerates to top upwind speed.

An OCS boat is able to accelerate into clear air. In its wake (air & waves), boats that started fairly are being slowed significantly. The difference in speed off the starting line between boats in clean air and dirty air can easily be several knots. Let's say 5 knots to make this a concrete example. That's 83 feet every 10 seconds... a race-winning advantage can be established within the first minute of the race.

Good Race Officers are much appreciated by the Tornado fleet; they bring accuracy, discipline, and fairness. The 2002 World Championship was a model of great Race Committee work. However, we need a quicker way to clear OCS boats off the course. And, general recalls are needed if all OCS boats cannot be identified; the fairness of the race is otherwise compromised.

* From Mark Gaudio: Bill Lee has done it again. I have been too preoccupied with business to read much butt as of late, but was delighted to read the piece by Mr. Lee on OCS. A buzzer to signal premature e-start-u-laters is a brilliant idea, one that has been talked about in certain circles, but not used. Model boat racing is a perfect trial venue (similar to lab rats) for certain aspects of experimentation in yacht racing. Glad to see the idea works. I like it, lets give it a shot! Compared to the vast, vast, did I say vast enough?, amount of money that big boat owners are willing to pay to get a ..005 knot,(let alone go the right direction) the $ is meaningless. Even in the "real" world of yacht racing (one design that is), competitors would be willing to fork over a paltry sum to be confident that all competitors get the same fair shake of the stick. I know I would.

* From Sharon Bourke & Larry Whipple, Co-Chairmen, Columbus Day Regatta: As information, the 48th Columbus Day Regatta raced down Biscayne Bay on Saturday, anchored overnight off Elliot Key and raced back on Sunday. In the early 80's we peaked at 747 sailboats racing. Since Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, we've always had less than 200 boats. We had 183 entries this year, not 600 as mentioned in the Miami Herald article. The powerboats number in the thousands and continue to grow. They come down early on Saturday, roaring through the racers at speeds up to 60 knots, and party their brains out all weekend long. They don't watch the race, most know nothing of the race and think getting drunk on the water is a regatta. Few sailors with common sense anchor near this Zoo.

This past holiday weekend, there were two boating accidents in which people were killed. One in which one power boater was towing another at night, when a third hit them at a high rate of speed. This accident was about 12 miles north of the anchorage. The second happened about 5 miles from the anchorage when a power boater drove his boat into some mangroves at a high rate of speed at night.

The Miami Herald put these stories together and ran headlines like "Columbus Day Regatta rowdy, deadly", "Two boaters die during regatta" and "Body is a likely regatta victim". We believe the Columbus Day Regatta is getting a bad rap from the Miami Herald.

(Following is a brief excerpt from a story by Fiona McIlroy on the website.)

A syndicate who may be rethinking their design is American heavyweights Oracle BMW Racing, whose small sail area seems to perform in heavy breezes but lags a little during light air downwind runs. Consecutive losses to Alinghi, GBR and OneWorld in the latter stages of the round robin will not have gone down well with the syndicate or their billionaire backer software mogul Larry Ellison. But a week doesn't provide much time to make major changes, so most of the crews will have to be content with small modifications.

Another American crew who will be trying to improve this week will be Team Dennis Conner. They arrived later than most with high expectations of their ability, which seem to have been a little dented after their first eight races. Rumour has it that USA66 is not as fast as they may have liked her to be and that USA77, complete with her new bow, may be unleashed for round robin two.

One of the pleasant surprises to come out of these first two weeks of racing is the performance of the GBR Challenge crew. Before racing the word on Syndicate Row was GBR70 was not a speed machine, however, the crew seemed to have found the right buttons to push and come out with some surprisingly fantastic results, including a shock 36 seconds win over Oracle.

Another underdog, Victory Challenge, made a formidable entry into the competition, with their three early wins showing the benefits of countless hours of training on the Hauraki Gulf over the last year. However, the Swedes have lagged in the latter stages with five consecutive losses and even tried changing their helmsman from Jesper Bank to Magnus Holmberg for the final race with little success.

More optimistic about their preparation are surely the two leaders. Alinghi and OneWorld were touted as early favourites and have proved their fans right. Although it was OneWorld who took the gun during the race between the two, some suspect that Alinghi are holding back in the early stages of the series and doing enough to qualify in the top four but no more. - Fiona McIlroy, website, full story:

Boat set up is easer than ever with Harken Deck Specs! This year, we've organized our library of hardware systems by basic boat size. Use the suggested layouts as is, or modify and customize them to suit your own boat and sailing style. Deck Specs was a big hit with sailors at the Annapolis Boat Show and is now posted on Deck Specs is also featured in the front of the 2003 Harken catalog.

If Team Dennis Conner and his Stars and Stripes campaign don't return the America's Cup to its spiritual home at the New York Yacht Club (NYYC), you get the feeling they would be happy for it to stay in Auckland.

NYYC commodore Charlie Dana, who was here for most of the first round-robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup before returning to his shipyard business at Rhode Island, said he was "totally blown away" by what the America's Cup has done for downtown Auckland.

"It is amazing what the cup has meant to your country," said 55-year-old Dana. "My wife commented to me when we were here last time that she didn't think anyone would go home from New Zealand not a changed person. We have tried to figure out what we could do in New York if we won the cup to try and replicate what has been done at the Viaduct Basin. Hats off to them. People are already using what you have here as the benchmark. You are very lucky."

Dana believed that, apart from the rich players in the America's Cup, the NYYC and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron were the only yacht clubs playing a strong role in maintaining the traditions of the cup. - NZPA, posted on the stuffnz wesite, full story:

Will the colourful French be the first to go home? That's a major question heading into the second round of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger yachting series starting next week. Semifinalists in the last challenger series, Le Defi Areva find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table after the first round without a win in the current series. But the team's rules adviser and sailing coach Philippe Gomez is not panicking. Competing in his third America's Cup, Gomez said all that is needed is a bit of fine-tuning.

"There are two reasons for not winning a race and they are the same for everybody," he said. "Either your boat is too slow or you make mistakes in tactics. We lost several races because of speed - we were never in a position to fight - and we lost against GBR Challenge and Mascalzone Latino because we made tactical mistakes."

Most yachting experts would agree that the French boat FRA69 is by no means slow. It is the work on board which needs a little more polishing. "If everyone thinks we have a fast boat - perfect," Gomez said. We were not in the upper range of speed. The speed of the boat is not good on the beats, and that is the main problem. Downwind is good."

Gomez said his team have made some modifications to their yacht during the seven-day break between rounds. "We have made lots of minor changes, but nothing radical. We don't have the resources to make radical changes," he said. - N.Z.P.A. as posted on the Stuff NZ website, full story:

The concern is that we've got to find ways to keep improving, because we know that whoever wins this will have been improving all the way through. That's the challenge for all of the teams here. - Russell Coutts, LVC website, full story:

Sailors representing three countries transcended on the Santa Cruz Yacht Club from Oct. 9-13 for the 2002 Pegasus Racing US Finn Nationals. This was the first US Sailing Team Qualifier for 2003. Eleven races were scheduled and ten were counted with one throw out coming into play. All conditions were encountered including pea soup fog. Final Results 1. Richard Clarke, Canada, 13 pts; 2. Chris Cook, Canada, 19 pts; 3. Mike Milner, Canada, 35 pts; 4. Aaron O'Grady, Ireland, 40 pts; 5. Mo Hart, USA 40 pts. Full results:

November 1-3: Hillman Capital Management J/24 East Coast Championship, Annapolis, MD. NOR:

Consumption of alcohol may actually cause pregnancy!